I taught myself to code back in 2009. Back then, it wasn’t so common. It was considered pretty crazy, actually.
There are a lot more resources now, so my story might be out of date. But friends still ask me about this all the time, so instead of sending another email response tonight, I thought I’d post it here instead.
As I wrote this, I realized there are two parts. (1) Why I learned to code and (2) How I learned to code. This is part 1. I’ll try to write part 2 later this week.
Coding is a super power at an early stage startup.
Without it, you’re stuck in the mud. My first startup back in 2007/2008 was basically Kickstarter. Great idea, right? Although, of course, nobody thought that back then. They thought I was nuts. I’m sure the Kickstarter guys know exactly what I mean! But Kickstarter executed and I didn’t. Props to them for killing it.
The reason this happened is that I couldn’t code, and I didn’t have the skills or the network required to convince a technical co-founder to join me. That was 2008. I was a different person and things were a lot different in NY tech too. A lot different. So without the ability to build a site and to iterate on the product, I was stuck in the mud. It was hard and depressing.
So I Changed the Equation
I was set on building startups. I had quit my job as a corporate lawyer, and all I wanted to do was build companies. With startups, you’ll find that there’s always a next biggest problem. I’ll write about that some time. Anyway, my next biggest problem—my roadblock preventing progress at that moment—was my inability to build products.
So I either had to quit, find a technologist who was at the co-founder level, or do it myself. I hate quitters. I really do. So I didn’t do that. And I tried in vane to find a technical co-founder (I’ll write about that some time too). So I was left with one choice: learn to code.
It Changed Everything
Back at this time, I was struggling a lot. I was spinning my wheels but there was no traction. I have to say that learning to code and building What Is Fresh was the catalyst that changed everything.
So, Should You Learn to Code?
It really depends. Vin Vacanti did a great post on this here: http://viniciusvacanti.com/2010/09/27/should-you-hire-a-programmer-or-diy
Don’t do it just to do it. Do it because it makes sense for you and your business. I think Vin’s post gives you a solid framework for how to think through that decision tree.
How I learned to code in 6 weeks and built a real product.
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